Marshall University’s Barclay and Petracca return from trip to nation’s capital


Photo courtesy of Hunter Barclay

Marshall University’s student body president, Hunter Barclay, and vice president, Hannah Petracca, recently attended the Campus Leadership Summit conference in Washington, D.C. A student from the University of Virginia and employee of the Campus Leadership Project heard of Barclay and Petracca’s campaign at Marshall, contacted the pair and extended an invitation to the summit, which was presented by the Campus Leadership Project. For three days, the Marshall representatives assembled with other student government officials from across the nation to learn from many of America’s leaders, including President Donald Trump.

Barclay said it was humbling to be at the White House and in the presence of the president.

“Hannah and I sat five rows back from the president of the United States, the leader of over 326 million Americans,” Barclay, senior pre-med major, said. “In his remarks, the president provided great advice that not only applies to student leaders but also any student who wishes to evoke change: ‘And speak your mind. Ask questions. You’re at such an important part of your life because you are making the decision for the rest of your life right now. This is your big time. You’re most wanted; everybody wants you. You’re young. You’re smart. You’re brilliant. And this is the time that’s going to really guide the rest of your lives.’”

Also speaking at the White House were Jared Kushner, senior advisor to the president, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. Barclay was given the opportunity to ask both Kushner and Conway questions.

“I had the opportunity to ask senior advisor Jared Kushner for his advice to a new administration,” Barclay said. “His advice was to stick to what you believe in, respect the establishment and make allies. Moreover, after asking counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway a question about the opioid epidemic, I learned Huntington is a national leader in substance abuse response. I was encouraged to know that the federal government has identified Huntington as a national leader in responding to the substance abuse epidemic. I was impressed that Mrs. Conway provided an answer that was specific to Huntington. She referenced her visit with First Lady Melania Trump to Lily’s Place and referred to it as a ‘gold standard.’ It is encouraging to know that this administration is looking toward Huntington as a national leader.”

Petracca said she enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many other students involved in student government.

“My favorite thing I learned from the conference was that other student leaders from all over the United States were experiencing the same struggles and had the same ambitions that we have for our university,” Petracca, junior marketing major, said. “So, it was awesome to meet amazing student leaders from as far as California and as close as Virginia. We learned about the ways that they have seen their ideas executed, what worked for them and what didn’t work for them. It was a really great experience to meet people in the same position that had some of the same goals and desires for their universities.”

Barclay and Petracca said they enjoyed the opportunity to work with and learn from other student leaders, and they can take their newfound knowledge and channel it into their efforts at Marshall.

“Hannah and I shared our platform with student government leaders from across the nation,” Barclay said. “We received advice on mental health solutions from leaders from Alabama. We received advice on textbook affordability from leaders from Mississippi, Texas and Maryland. It was encouraging to know the reforms that Hannah and I are working on are not only happening at Marshall, but student government leaders from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast are also tackling issues related to campus safety, mental health, textbook affordability and free speech.”

“Hunter and I really appreciate the opportunity we had this past week. It was incredible to visit the White House, tour of the Capitol building and spend time with student leaders from all over the country, but ultimately we spent those three days getting as many resources and contacts as we could to execute the idea is that we have promised our peers,” Petracca said. “This year is going to be a busy one, and there’s a lot in store for Marshall. We couldn’t be more excited to work alongside our student body to make our university the best it can be.”

Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected]